Following their ignominious exit in the ICC T20 World Cup in the UAE recently, the West Indies Test side will aim to salvage some pride when they take on Sri Lanka in a two-match series beginning at the Galle International Stadium on Sunday.
On the other hand, Sri Lanka will have a host of experienced personnel return to their ranks in the series. Dimuth Karunanratne, Suranga Lakmal and Angelo Mathews are a few among those along with the likes of Dinesh Chandimal who was a part of their T20 World Cup campaign. Impressive performers from the tournament like Charith Asalanka, Pathum Nissanka and Dushmantha Chameera are also part of the squad.
With this being head coach Mickey Arthur’s final series in charge, the Lankans will hope to send him off on a high.
West Indies are a team who have consistently improved over the past few years despite now having many glamorous names in their ranks. With both matches being played in Galle, spin will play a crucial role in the series and it will be interesting to see the combination which the visitors go with into the opening Test. But Kraigg Brathwaite will be confident in his sides ability to mount a stern test against the hosts, who will start the series as favourites in their own backyard.
The two sides recently faced off earlier this year in a two-match Test series back in the West Indies. Both the matches were held in Antigua between March and April. In two highly-competitive encounters, there was nothing to separate the two sides with both the matches ending in a draw.
There were impressive performers from both sides with Lahiru Thirimanne ending as the highest run-scorer with 240 runs at an average of 60. Suranga Lakmal was the leading wicket-taker with 11 scalps at an average of 21.45. With both teams having quality in equal measures, the series in Sri Lanka promises to be an enticing encounter.
Outgoing Sri Lankan coach Mickey Arthur said, “Karunaratne’s last knock in Test cricket was a double hundred. Angelo is one of the great players in the game. Suranga Lakmal is so crucial for us with the new ball and he is a wonderful player. It’s great to have them back and their experience is going to be vital.”
West Indies batter Jermaine Blackwood said, “We came here to win. Our guys are hungry and you can see that in their eyes. We are a decent team and we are ready to break the shackles and win games this time around. Sri Lanka have quality spinners but we are ready for the challenge. If you see the series in Bangladesh when we won, it was played on similar conditions and we tackled their spinners well. Most of the guys who played in that series are here and we know what to expect.”